Specialty Food Magazine

Summer 2018

Specialty Food Magazine is the leading publication for retailers, manufacturers and foodservice professionals in the specialty food trade. It provides news, trends and business-building insights that help readers keep their businesses competitive.

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Summer Fancy Food Show Booth 2561 Visit us at Booth 2561 | sales@johnwmmacys.com At the Summer Fancy Food Show you'll wish you had two stomachs. Choose wisely, and you'll only need one. A Business School Boost Undaunted, Beach and McCollum, along with his brother Brian McCollum, developed a business plan for a New York University- sponsored competition and won $25,000 in seed money. Another $100,000 went on their credit cards. Early on, Beach and McCollum were transporting newly minted chocolate bars in backpacks, doing demos at grocery stores, specialty food shops, and coffeehouses. Ten outlets in Manhattan and Brooklyn signed on. After a year or two, they engaged a distributor, which didn't work out, so they found another. "It's harder for small companies to get a foothold," McCollum says, "but there isn't much that fazes us. When you deal with what we've dealt with in Madagascar, you get very good at problem-solving." Eventually, they partnered with coop- eratives of cocoa farmers, determined to pay them fair wages, and created further economic opportunities by manufacturing and packaging the chocolate at a small, pre- existing factory. Before the Mad├ęcasse team came along, farmers merely sold the freshly harvested pods, having no idea how their crops became chocolate nor how it tasted. "None of them had even seen the inside of a chocolate factory," McCollum says. It took years to convince some of the grow- ers to come to meetings, to believe it was worth the days-long process to ferment and dry the beans themselves, to trust that they would be paid for the extra labor. From spending so much time in Madagascar, the partners understood how hard it was for people who had lived in poverty their entire lives to think long-term. How do you make them care about land conservation, climate change, and endan- gered species? "You can't conceptualize one month from now when you don't know how you'll feed your child in two hours," McCollum explains. Mad├ęcasse hit a ceiling of $3 million in revenue in 2014. The factory on the island had provided a satisfactory arrangement for five or six years, but they couldn't scale up. Gaining more purchasing power on certain things and more leverage with retailers was out of their reach, making it hard to com- pete with larger brands. Not only was it difficult to maintain a production schedule, they weren't always granted on-site access. "The cocoa that we were basically breaking our backs and our bank accounts to collect from the farmers, we couldn't verify it was being used in our SUMMER 2018 61

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